Domino Effect

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Chapter Three

Bailey drove past Mac’s—the small and more expensive grocery store on the corner—and past the Inn, marveling at how many people were crowding the sidewalks around her. She had to stop twice to let some through the crosswalk. The traffic was light, at least. She drove past the Stackpole & French building—one of the three lawyers’ offices in town—and continued up the road. She would have liked to have a house like that. It was one of those historically-renovated houses and the lawyers had done a good job at sprucing it up. The poor thing had been falling apart long before they came along.

She sighed; the speed limit was only twenty-five on this stretch, and if she pushed past it even just a bit, she knew she’d get caught. The police were everywhere these days. So Bailey chugged along behind a short line of cars until she came to the bigger supermarket in town. Though Mac’s was an easier time, Shaw’s could hit two birds with one stone.

Bailey parked and walked into the store. She really hadn’t thought much about what she needed. Perusing through the aisles usually gave her some ideas, though. She grabbed a cart and pushed it down the first aisle, looking up and down the shelves, not at all particular on what she grabbed. A box of plastic baggies here, a box of trash bags there. She needed more detergent, so she lobbed a box of the pods she used next to the boxes. For that, at least, she knew she had to be particular. She liked the detergent, anyway, but her washer only used HE detergents. Otherwise the machine would crap out.

After another half an hour, Bailey was at the register with a full cart. She had started lining her cold things on the belt first when her phone buzzed against her thigh; it was nice that her dress had small pockets. Bailey hit the call button and held the phone to her ear with her shoulder.

“Yeah?”

“Did you get my message earlier?” It was Bailey’s mother.

“I did,” Bailey replied. “I’ve been productive today, so I hadn’t answered yet.”

“So what do you think?” her mother asked. She waited a few seconds before she said, “Bailey?”

“I don’t think I have time today, Mum,” Bailey replied. She reached into her cart and grabbed the next few items to put on the belt as the belt moved forward. “I’m meeting Sam for lunch later on and I have laundry that needs doing.”

Her mother was quiet on the other end for a few moments. “It would mean a lot to him, Hun,” she said. Bailey waited for something more, and she added a loaf of bread and some napkins to the belt in the silence. “Just think about it, okay?”

“I will, Mum,” Bailey said. She looked up as the cashier finished up with the woman in front of her. “I’ve got to run, I’m checking out at the grocer’s. I’ll talk to you soon?”

Bailey could just imagine her mother nodding back to her. “Don’t forget him, Bailey. I love you, Sweetie,” she said.

“Love you too, Mum.”

The call ended and Bailey pocketed her cell. The cashier rang her up at $125.25. Her wallet full for once, Bailey skipped over her debit card and handed the cashier the paper money and change. The bagger helped her load her things into the cart and waved her out of the sliding glass doors.

Bailey had wanted to reply to her mother’s text but she hadn’t known what to say at the time. She figured answering Sam’s and Charlie’s had been easy and unassuming, so she’d tackled them first. The lingering guilt that she’d ignored her mother’s message unintentionally was gnawing at her a little. Bailey pushed it aside with the reminder that the message hadn’t been a pleasant subject. Bailey had felt it acceptable to leave it for later, but later had come too soon. She didn’t know how she felt about it now, let alone how she had really felt about it then.

Bailey loaded her bags into her trunk and shut it. She got into her car and drove back home, in a fog that kept her from noticing that the crowds of people had thinned out quite a bit. The subject of that unpleasant memory kept cropping up. Bailey turned into her driveway. Well, she didn’t think it a big deal, since the anniversary had been only yesterday. She got out and popped open her trunk with the lever underneath her seat. She looped the plastic bags’ handles around her forearm until she had all of them up to her elbow. Bailey closed the trunk and front door with her free hand.

It was a good thing her apartment was on the ground level; walking up the two flights of stairs, even if it was sunny outside, would have been rough if she’d had more groceries to haul with her. Bailey unlocked her front door, squeezed over her threshold, and deposited her bags next to the island. Then she went back and closed her front door.

It sounded as though the washer had finished its cycle, Bailey noted as she began emptying the bags. Her cupboards were finally stocked and she was now comfortable with the amount of food in the refrigerator. Closing the fridge door, she knew she couldn’t leave that many plastic bags just lying on the floor. Two or three wasn’t too bad, but she’d trip over more than that and smash the other side of her face on the island.

Now that she was alone—though she’d been alone with her thoughts in the grocer’s, she hadn’t technically been alone—Bailey was forced to think about what her mother had said. The death of Bailey’s father had been tragic. It had scarred Bailey in ways no one should be. But it had also affected more people than just his daughter. Bailey’s mother was now a widow, and Bailey’s grandmother hadn’t lived too much longer after the accident.

She opened the closet and changed over the laundry, closing the dryer with a sound of finality. She probably should visit her father's grave. She hadn’t in some time.


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